Bill would allow Georgia parents to pick public schools

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ATLANTA — A bill would allow public school students to change attendance zones without moving the family to a new home.

Children are mostly assigned to public schools based on where they live.  And if they want to attend a different school – they can’t, unless they can show they’ve changed addresses. Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park) is sponsoring a bill that could change that essential formula. 

It allows students to change school zones if “an individual … has authorized … use (of their) address for purposes of establishing residency.”  It means a child in DeKalb County’s Lakeside High School zone could cross over to Tucker High School if a Tucker High School resident OK’s it.  Or the student could change from one county to another.

Some education groups are very wary of the measure, saying it could overcrowd desirable schools and drain students from underperforming schools.

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"There could be a shift, an unbalanced shift, in which schools have more students, and then (affect) the ability to run those schools and teach in those schools. That’s certainly a concern that we would have," said Starla Tanner of the Georgia Association of Educators, a teachers group. 

"Yes it would. I’m sure it’s going to cause increasing enrollment," Stovall said. "But that wouldn’t be any different than someone moving to a district, and a school having to accommodate them anyway."

The bill could also allow high school athletes to shift into more prestigious schools.  Stovall says her bill would stop making criminals of parents who are now skirting these rules already.